PEORIA, Ariz. - That new, improved curve that Jason Vargas thinks he can throw for a strike anytime he wants?
“I didn’t throw one today,” the left-hander said after a 45-pitch, three-scoreless-inning debut for the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. “The fastball and change-up were good, so I stayed with them.”
Like ace Felix Hernandez, Vargas is coming off a career-high in innings last year (193), and has been brought along slowly this spring. Until Tuesday against San Francisco, he hadn’t seen an opposing batter all camp.
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“It felt like forever, but it wasn’t that long,” Vargas said. “I was in the strike zone, I got ahead in the count early, I wasn’t all over the place. It was productive.”
“Jason looked good, under control,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s been working hard and took all he’s done right into the game today.”
Vargas was 9-12 with Seattle last season, making a career-best 31 starts with a 3.78 earned-run average. Those stats were skewed when he lost his last seven decisions as he wore down. After his first 23 starts, Vargas was 9-5 with a 3.15 ERA.
The goals this season?
“Stay healthy,” he said.
James Paxton’s first few days as a Mariner have involved strength tests and workouts, and playing catch with another new left-hander, Aaron Laffey.
“I’m meeting a few new guys each day, getting more comfortable,” Paxton said. “I’m normally pretty quiet, but I’m trying to catch up.”
This week, he’ll take the mound – the bullpen mound.
“I think I throw a bullpen (session) Thursday,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
After holding out since June, when Seattle drafted him in the fourth round, Paxton signed last week and will likely not pitch in a game with the big-league campers this spring. The Mariners worry he might try to impress and hurt himself.
So Paxton will throw a bullpen session, watch games with new teammates and then be sent to minor league camp for assignment.
BACK IN THE LINEUP
Adam Moore was back in camp and in the lineup a day after flu-like symptoms laid him low. Checking the lineups for the game against the Giants – and the “B” game against the Dodgers – the catcher smiled and tapped the “B” game lineup.
“I remember when I was playing in all of these,” he said.
Moore caught Vargas against the Giants. In the “B” game, 20-year-old rookie Steven Baron caught Luke French and others.
Seattle beat Los Angeles, 7-1, in the “B” game behind home runs from Milton Bradley, Alex Liddi and a three-run shot by Dustin Ackley.
Bradley, Liddi and Ackley each had two hits in the six-inning game.
Luke French went two innings, allowing a run, and four Seattle relievers shut out the Dodgers from there.
The Mariners rode pitching and defense and then more pitching to a 1-0 win over the Giants, getting only three hits. Justin Smoak walked and outfielder Ryan Langerhans tripled him home. Going back to the run French allowed in the first inning of the “B” game, 11 Seattle pitchers worked 14 consecutive scoreless innings. ...Think Jack Cust swings hard? On one cut against San Francisco, he lost the bat – and it carried more than a hundred feet in the air before banging into a walkway. Good hang time – and no one hurt. ... Miguel Olivo’s strained groin muscle will keep him from catching, not from watching. Olivo walked from the clubhouse to the stadium, then back Tuesday, declining offers to ride in a cart. ... The Mariners’ spring record is 5-4-1. In its past nine games, Seattle has totaled 30 runs – an average of 3.3 a game. ... With 64 players in camp, when might Wedge and Co. begin cutting the field? “We don’t have a date for cuts yet,” the manager said.
Seattle plays a 12:05 p.m. PST game vs. the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Doug Fister vs. Jon Garland.